BACKGROUND: Outcomes management that uses critical pathways may decrease costs while improving outcomes for patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation. OBJECTIVE: To study the efficacy of an outcomes-managed approach to weaning patients from prolonged (more than 3 days) mechanical ventilation. METHODS: A method of multidisciplinary care delivery was designed that included an outcomes manager, a care pathway for patients receiving mechanical ventilation, and weaning protocols. Data collection consisted of three parts: a retrospective review of 124 patients who required prolonged ventilation during a 1-year period before implementation of the care model, a 6-month prospective study in which 91 patients were alternately assigned by month to an outcomes-managed approach or a non-outcomes-managed approach, and a 6-month prospective study of 90 patients in which an outcomes-managed approach without alternate-month assignment was used. RESULTS: Outcomes management had no significant effect on total duration of mechanical ventilation or length of stay in the hospital, days of mechanical ventilation without tracheostomy, days of mechanical ventilation with tracheostomy, or outcome (weaned, withdrawal from mechanical ventilation, death, or transfer without weaning). However, duration of mechanical ventilation was 1.3 days shorter, length of stay in the hospital was 2.1 days shorter, and the cost per case was $ 3341 less for patients in the outcomes-managed group than for patients in the non-outcomes-managed group. CONCLUSION: Outcomes-managed care did not have a significant effect on duration of ventilation, length of stay in the hospital, or outcome in patients receiving long-term mechanical ventilation.

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